Sunday, March 1, 2009

BETTIE M. SELLERS, POET OF THE MONTH FOR MARCH

Bettie M. Sellers is Georgia’s most honored living poet. Governor Zell Miller appointed her as Georgia Poet Laureate in 1997, and she served in that office until 2000. She received the Governor’s Award for the Humanities in 1987 and in 1992 she was named Poet of the Year by American Pen Women. She received the Stanley W. Lindberg Award which recognizes outstanding contributions to Georgia culture. The Georgia Writers Association honored Bettie M. Sellers with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.


In this her birth month, we celebrate the life and the achievements of Georgia Poet, Bettie M. Sellers.





COMPLAINT TO BETELGEUSE by Bettie M. Sellers

I used to know that stars were stars
and stayed wherever in that distant place
their ordered orbit was. The sky
was snug with Cassiopeia's Chair,
and night had big and little bears to hunt.

Then, winking moving lights began to stitch
an arch from Sunset Ridge to Raven Cliffs--
planes to Birmingham and points beyond
with travelers drowsing past sleeping hills
folded like dark velvet, with ribbons wound
for lake and stream, silver in reflected light.

Now, satellites invade the ridge--
the star I thought was Venus rising
keeps on rising out of sight
to bring the morning's news--and wars
are instantaneously played on beams
that tear Orion's belt, divide Andromeda.

From MORNING OF THE RED TAILED HAWK
Green River Press, 1981


Bettie M. Sellers was born on March 30,1926 in Tampa, Florida. Almost immediately, her parents retuned to their Georgia home. The first seventeen years of her life were spent on a farm west of Griffin, Georgia. Life changed for her when she was eight years old, when a traveling theater troupe came to Griffin. At that time she fell in love with Shakespeare, and she fell in love with words.

She married Ezra Sellers in 1945, became the mother of a son and two daughters. She began working on her education, earning a B.A. from La Grange College in 1958 and an M.A. from the University of Georgia in 1966. She moved with her husband to Young Harris, Georgia where he became head of the Art Department at Young Harris College and she began teaching English. Her teaching career at Y.H.C. spanned thirty-one years.

In the spring of 1972, she began writing poetry, and she saw her poems published in top literary magazines throughout America. She celebrated the publication of one poetry collection after another. She traveled to many states answering invitations to read her poems.

In 1986-87, Sellers began working on a project about the life and poetry of Byron Herbert Reece, a nationally known poet who had taught at Young Harris in the fifties, before his death in 1958. In 1989, the film, “Bitter Berry” won many awards, including a Georgia Emmy for Bettie M. Sellers and gained her an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from La Grange College.

She served on many boards and she is responsible for helping to start the Georgia State Poetry Society and for advancing the Institute of Continued Learning at Young Harris College. In the fall of 2008, at the Annual Meeting of The Institute of Continued Learning, Young Harris College, Bettie M. Sellers was honored with a lengthy testimonial.

Although she was raised in the Piedmont region of Georgia, Sellers’s work is touched by all things Appalachian. When one considers that 45 years of her life was lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, it will not come as a surprise that her poems are filled with images of the mountains and that she is honored and claimed as an Appalachian poet by literary scholars. In 2008, Southern Appalachian Poetry, An Anthology of Works by 37 Poets( McFarland Press) was published. Five of Bettie M. Sellers’s poems were included.

Bettie M. Sellers continues to live at the foot of a mountain in Young Harris Georgia where she has lived for the past 45 years. She still writes, does her pool exercises, attends book club meetings, and speaks on her favorite topic, literature.


PUBLICATIONS OF BETTIE M. SELLERS.

Western From Bald Mountain (1974) Out of Print

Appalachian Carols ( 1976)

Spring Onions and Cornbread ( Pelican Publishing 1878)
available www.alibris.com

Morning of the Red Tailed Hawk (Green River Press 1981
available www.alibris.com

Satan's Playhouse (1986)

Liza’s Monday (Appalachian Consortium Press, Boone, 1986)

The Bitter Berry: The Life of Byron Herbert Reece
(1992 University of Georgia Press)

Wild Ginger (Images 1988, Reprinted by Kennesaw State University Press 2004)

Wild Ginger also available at www.alibris.com.
Note from Alibris:About this title: Best known for her poems
about life in southern Appalachia, Bettie Sellers is a poet
of profound humility and humanity, writing from the heart.
This collection of poetry from the former poet laureate of Georgia
was chosen by Georgia Center for the Book for its
Georgia 2005 Top 25 List.

7 comments:

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Nancy,

Thank you for posting Bettie's profile and poetry on your blog. There's no doubt I love her work and relate to her poetry about our beloved Appalachian Mountains. In my opinion, Bettie is one of the best poets I have ever read. I feel very blessed to know her as a teacher, a poet, and most of all, as a friend.

Tipper said...

Thanks for the introduction to Betty and her poetry!

Anonymous said...

Nancy,
Bettie Sellers is a unique person and poet. I took a couple of her classes through ICL in Young Harris. Hearing her read her work is quite inspiring--she has that unmistakable commanding voice. Thanks for the article about her life and works.
Carole Thompson

Glenda C. Beall said...

Thanks for posting this tribute to a wonderful poet, Nancy. I have enjoyed reading and hearing Betty read her poetry since coming to these mountains fourteen years ago. She deserves all the honors bestowed upon her.

karenh said...

Hi Nancy,
I have heard about Bettie for years, but am sorry to say I hadn't read anything of hers. This is a fine poem. I will read more. Thanks.

Jack said...

Hello, and I'm delighted to read about Bettie Sellers, having had the privilege of meeting and speaking with her about BHR. May I point out that her excellent collection "Spring Onions & Cornbread" is a pleasure to read, but was published a bit later than you indicated: 1978 instead of 1878. Thank you for writing about her!

cbelardo said...

Tonight we mourn the death of Bettie M. Sellers she pass away earlier this evening she will surely be missed RIP Great Aunt Bettie